Brewers to bring taprooms to China |
Home   >   Media Center   >   FDI News

Brewers to bring taprooms to China

China Daily Updated: 2018-10-08


A man gets a beer at Jackie's Beer Nest, a taproom in Shanghai. [Photo by RUI YI/FOR CHINA DAILY]

The taproom at Wibby's Brewery north of Denver was filled with the happy chatter of more than 100 locals on Saturday afternoon, while outside, in the bright Colorado sunshine, musicians were playing to another crowd.

"This is the future of the beer experience in America," said patron Josh Garner, 32, whose black Labrador retriever sat patiently by his side at the main bar, surrounded by tables filled with adults playing Monopoly and children drawing with their parents.

"We call it the taproom phenomenon," said Robert Pease, president of the Brewers Association, a unique craft beer voice in the US since 1978, when it started with only 42 members.

Some 6,800 craft breweries dot the landscape, with most featuring the latest cultural attraction-the taproom.

"It's where men, women, kids, dogs and families will go together to a small, independent local brewery and sample beers there in a more welcoming environment," Pease told Xinhua News Agency.

Thanks to such innovative approaches, craft beer has climbed to a $25 billion industry and taken a 23 percent chunk out of the traditional light pilsner's market share.

Pease says US craft beer entrepreneurs "got their start in this country by imitating the old European beer styles and culture, especially the United Kingdom, Belgium and Germany."

"When you go to a guesthouse or a pub, you don't see televisions; you'll see people actually having to talk to each other and interacting with each other. You put away your phone and pretend like it's 1985, and talk to somebody. We think that's great," he said.

The crowd at Wibby's fit Pease's description. People of all ages were mostly focused on conversation and beer tasting.

"This brewpub is quickly becoming an institution and landmark in Longmont," Garner said while sipping a Moondoor Dunkel, a silver award winner at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival.

Longmont, 65 kilometers north of Denver, is a big town in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.


The industry has attracted many young, 30-something US entrepreneurs, Pease noted, and Wibby's again follows suit. It opened in 2015, when Ithaca college pals Ryan Wibby and Ted Risk bought and renovated an old building in an industrial part of Longmont that was once part of a turkey processing plant.

"You see many of America's new brewpubs started by young entrepreneurs, who have uplifted neighborhoods in inner cities by offering a festive establishment where people from the community can gather," Pease said.

Wibby, who turns 34 in December, completed a six-month Certified Brewmaster Course in Berlin before launching the brewery just three years ago.

"The craft beer revolution is now a global phenomenon, not just confined to the United States," Pease said, adding: "China has the biggest beer producing and consuming market in the world, and that is very attractive to us."

China market

Brewery owners are quick to express their hope of entering the lucrative China market.

"Sure, we'd love to sell our beer in China," said Susan Greene, National Sales Manager of 21st Amendment Brewing in San Leandro, California. "Who wouldn't?"

(The brewery takes its name from the 21st Amendment to the US Constitution, which revoked an earlier amendment prohibiting the consumption of alcohol.)

Thus far, 20 craft breweries have entered the Chinese market, including East Coast breweries Brooklyn and Saranac (New York) and Victory Brewing (Pennsylvania) and, most recently, Left Hand Brewery Co from Longmont, Colorado, according to Pease.

The brewers' association president has been traveling to China for 10 years to promote the export of craft beer, has hosted Chinese distributors in the US and has seen "steady and incremental growth" in the Chinese market.

"China right now is our fifth-largest market," he said, noting that the biggest challenge facing US exporters to China "is a lack of cold chain infrastructure-shipping, storing and serving the beer cold," Pease said.

The association participated in the spring Beijing National Craft Beer Festival in conjunction with Beijing's Great Leap Brewing, founded in 2010, where Pease discussed ways to bring US craft beer to the world's most populous nation.

As one of its innovative approaches to beer drinking, the association has been working with world-class chefs over the past decade to discover food offerings that complement beer, much as wine enthusiasts have been doing for centuries.

A popular event at the 2018 GABF was called "pairing", where 26 chefs from the US and France each combined two beers with gourmet dishes, creating culinary samples for attendees.

The association's executive chef, Adam Dulye, who studied cooking in France and co-authored's Beer & Food Course said pairing US craft beer with China's diverse and eclectic cuisine was a win-win scenario.

"Hops go really well with the peppers that are present in a lot of their food," he said. "You got deep, dark-roasted malts that combine well with things that are roasted over the fire; you've got a lot of beers that have a subtle flavor that go well with fish dishes."